Telluride’s Transfer Warehouse, which has stood sentry on the corner of Fir Street and Pacific Avenue since 1906, will add another chapter to its history Friday, as Telluride Arts District is expected to close on the building after three years of negotiations, fundraising and planning.
The purchase price is $1.5 million, which is significantly below market value, according to arts district director Kate Jones.
“It’s exhilarating,” she said.
Once a livery barn and warehouse, the building has sat empty since 1979, when its roof collapsed. Now it’s one step closer to becoming a center for the arts.
Founded in 1971 as the Telluride Council of the Arts and Humanities, Telluride Arts is a nonprofit dedicated to incubating, promoting and elevating a culture of the arts in Telluride.
“It feels like a huge accomplishment. To be owners, and to have site-control is very exciting, because we have a stellar vision for the project,” Jones said.
Telluride Arts is purchasing the building from the Telluride Transfer Co., a consortium of partners developing the property adjacent to the warehouse.
“In order for them to develop the property, they needed to provide a community benefit, and we are the stewards for that community benefit,” Jones explained.
The purchase has been years in the making. In 2015, talks between the developers and Telluride Arts began, as the warehouse’s deteriorated interior was cleared out and opened for events and community brainstorming meetings to discuss the building’s potential as an art center.
“I would like to note that we did a cultural master plan update in 2012 and one of our top priorities was to secure a space for the arts,” Jones said. “And we were asked to take the lead on the purchase and restoration in 2015.”
Last summer, the building’s existing walls were completely restored and stabilized by master stonemasons as a condition of the sale. The building is now safe and stable for the first time in 40 years, Jones said.
Telluride Arts held several successful parties in the space the past few summers. In May 2017, the organization selected three architects to present preliminary designs for the space as part of a competition for the warehouse’s future look.
LTL Architects, of New York City, came out on top with plans that will transform the warehouse into a 6,000-square-foot facility with a large exhibition space, smaller theater for intimate events, flexible space for community gatherings and artists in residence, and a rooftop bar and café.
The design increases the space’s usable square footage by reconstructing the historic building’s second floor and adding a rooftop deck, according to the plans.
“Overall, the project aims to amplify the future of Telluride by cultivating a dynamic relationship to its past and supporting its present, evolving needs,” LTL architect David Lewis said in a news release.
Now that Telluride Arts officially owns the property, Jones and her team will spend the next two years raising the $15 million needed to complete the project. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2020.
The capital campaign will officially kick off July 3 with a party in the warehouse. The building will be open for various public and private events through the summer.
Plans for this summer’s events are still in the works Jones said to follow Telluride Arts on social media to stay updated on upcoming events.
“It’s going to be a busy summer,” Jones said.
For more information about the warehouse, the building’s history and to see the preliminary designs for the art center, visit telluridearts.org and click on the Warehouse tab.